Leaders & Laggards

A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education

View Grades on Map

Student Access & Success

Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness

Meeting Labor Market Demand

Transparency & Accountability

Policy Environment

Innovation

Leaders & Laggards

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • F

State Grades

State Student Access & Success,
Four-Year
Effic. & Cost-Effect.,
Four-Year
Meeting Labor Market Demand,
Four-Year
Trans. & Account.,
Four-Year
Student Access & Success,
Two-Year
Effic. & Cost-Effect.,
Two-Year
Meeting Labor Market Demand,
Two-Year
Trans. & Account.,
Two-Year
Policy Environ­ment Innovation: Openness to Providers Innovation: Online Learning
Alabama D D A F C D A F D F D
Alaska F F C F F F A F D D C
Arizona C B B C C B C F B B D
Arkansas D C B F C B F D B F F
California A B B D C D B D D C C
Colorado D A D D C B F F B C B
Connecticut B C B B F F C B F D C
Delaware B D B F F D C F F B F
Florida A B C C A A C C B D A
Georgia C B C D B A C F D F A
Hawaii D F C D D F B F B A B
Idaho F F D D C D F F C A C
Illinois A B C D D C C D B F C
Indiana C D B C D B C C A C A
Iowa B D B F B C C D C D C
Kansas C C C D B C C D B F D
Kentucky D D C C B A D C C F B
Louisiana F C B D C B C D A D C
Maine C D C F B C B F F B C
Maryland B A B D D D A D D D C
Massachusetts C C C D D C C D C F C
Michigan B C A F C C A F F B D
Minnesota C C D A B B C B B F A
Mississippi B C C F B C A F D C F
Missouri C C B D C C C D C D D
Montana D C F D B D F D C B B
Nebraska C C C D B D C D F C D
Nevada F C D D F D C D C D F
New Hampshire C A D D C B F F D F D
New Jersey A B C D D B C D C B D
New Mexico D D C F F D F D C F C
New York B B C D C C D D D B B
North Carolina B F C C C D C C C F B
North Dakota D C F D A B D D B D A
Ohio C C B C D C C D A F C
Oklahoma C B C C C D C D C B C
Oregon C A D D D F D F C F D
Pennsylvania B C C F C C D F D A D
Rhode Island C B C D F D C F D D D
South Carolina B C C F D C B F D D C
South Dakota D D C C A B B C C A C
Tennessee D D B C B B C C A F B
Texas C A C A D C B B C F C
Utah D B D F B B C F D A D
Vermont B C F F A B B F F D F
Virginia A A A D D B C D F C D
Washington A C C C B C D C D D D
West Virginia D C F C C B D D C D C
Wisconsin C B C D A F C F D F B
Wyoming D F D D C F D C C C A

Why This Report?

Projections of labor market demand show that two-thirds of all jobs will require some postsecondary education by 2018; however, given today’s disappointing levels of higher education productivity, labor economists estimate that the United States will fall 7 million degrees short.

While American employers increasingly struggle to find the talent they need to grow our economy, our youngest workers rank a disappointing 15th out of 34 industrialized countries in the percentage with a college diploma.

Tuition rates have grown at three times the rate of inflation in recent decades, prompting students, employers, and policymakers alike to question how efficiently and effectively our institutions of higher education are using the precious resources made available to them.

Students who enrolled in public colleges three years ago now face tuition as much as 50% to 80% higher in some states—reflecting a model of postsecondary education that is expensive, inefficient, and slow to change.

Seventy percent of our high school graduates now move on to some form of postsecondary education, but fewer than half of those who enroll finish a degree or certificate within six years.

There is a growing skepticism among employers about whether those lucky enough to graduate have acquired the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the 21st century economy.

Prospective students, policymakers, and taxpayers deserve comprehensive, quality data to help drive crucial decision making. However, most existing data systems are flawed and do not provide sufficient information.

About the Report

This report identifies the best and worst performing states—the leaders and laggards— in public postsecondary education. It focuses on the performance of the institutions over which state governments have the most influence: public colleges and universities. In an effort to systematically measure the most important factors being watched by policymakers, business leaders, and concerned citizens, we graded state performance and policy in the following six areas:

Student Access & Success

  • Do state institutions retain and graduate a high percentage of their students within a reasonable amount of time?
  • Do they ensure access for low-income students?

Efficiency & Cost-Effectiveness

  • How much money do public institutions spend on education and related expenses per degree produced?
  • How much does it cost, in state and local spending, to produce degrees?

Meeting Labor Market Demand

  • How much better do college graduates fare than their less-educated peers in terms of employment and wages?

Transparency & Accountability

  • Do states measure learning and labor market outcomes? Do they routinely make information on the performance of the higher education system available to the public?

Policy Environment

  • Do states have policies in place that provide incentives to promote degree completion and allow students to transfer course credits freely within the system?

Innovation

  • Have states made efforts to embrace innovative ways of delivering college instruction?
  • Do states encourage innovative providers to serve nontraditional students who may be underserved by the existing system?
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